I've written about these two before, and
I now have taken on the civic duty of saving
them from themselves. By the way, this story
is not meant to purposely tick any particular
person(s) or group(s) of y'all off, and I
promise to stay as diversely correct (yeah,
right) as I possibly can, even thought it tugs
at my southern roots to the point of dislodge.
The two I make mention of are the two gals
down the road a couple of houses, Nancy and
Tina. I won't mention last names, because I
fear certain lawsuits may come about in the
very near future from these two after this
article is published.
These two are recent transplants from Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, "Philly" as they call it. "Yankees,"
as we call 'em down here. Now don't get me wrong.
Nancy and Tina are fine folks; they just talk a
little funny. But, be that it may, they are still
Yankees...city slickers, and make no bones about it.
They seem quite proud of the fact, actually.
Down here, Yankees are a very important part
of our daily entertainment; we give up a lot
of our valuable time to observe them in our
native habitat. We find they are quite amusing,
and it doesn't cost anything, and we try to
observe them from afar; undisturbed. But these
two are only two houses down, and better
observed up close...so we can see and hear 'em.
Take for instance not too terribly long ago...
If I recollect correctly it was on a Memorial
Day weekend. The kids and grandkids were coming
over for a joint barbeque with one of our other
neighbors (I hadn't officially met the two gals
yet). The ladies in question have a chocolate
Lab; a "duck" dog. Yep, the Lab is a Yankee, too.
This pup was raised on concrete, no ducks to be
found. But yet, there's a little instinctual switch
buried deep within the brain of these critters that
turns on when said critter sees the target. Well,
we all live on a lake, the lake has ducks, the
ducks hang out on everybody's docks, and the Lab
sees the "target," i. e. duck. "Roxie" the Lab
spots the duck just as one of the gals opens the
back porch door; the duck spots large,
chocolate-colored missile, "Roxie," in full
retrieve mode; duck hauls it into the lake. Roxie
does a most spectacular launch from the dock into
the lake and begins swimming madly after the now
flapping and swimming Muscovey duck. But that isn't
what drew our attention away from the smoldering
slabs of ribs. It was the frantic screaming of,
yep, Nancy and Tina. Come to think of it, the first
and only time I've actually seen Nancy in the lake.
Roxie is now looking back at "Mom" like she's nuts.
"Why the heck is Mom yelling at me?"
"Roxie! Somebody get a boat!" This outburst is
loud enough that people from across the lake
have come outside to see what the ruckus is
"A boat? Why does Mom need a boat, I'm doing just
fine! Look Mom! I really can swim, and hey, my
first duck! How ya like me now?"
"Roxie, get your &%$ back here! There're gators
out there that are going to eat you!"
Well, the duck out-swims Roxie. Roxie gives up
just as two of the other neighbors (other Yankees)
slide their canoe into the lake, and Roxie,
looking somewhat puzzled with all the commotion
going on, swims back to the shore giving the two
in the canoe the evil eye.
What'd I tell you? Yep, cheap entertainment
at its finest.
Ah, but one has only to look at the other
underlying facet in this particular scenario.
There is a sentence written above that should
draw the attention of a southern boy, such as
myself. Did you other southern folks catch it?
Yep, thought so. Good!
"There're gators out there that are going to eat you!"
Now according to all Yankees, there is a gator
in every body of water in the state of Florida.
Just like the entire freakin' state is covered
in palm trees and sandy beaches. Ain't so! However,
I would just as soon let 'em believe that little
misconception. Less crowding of the lakes, don't
Now some other misinformed Yankee has led the
ladies to believe something is "out there,"
possibly "The Monster From the Black Lagoon."
Now I've been all over the lake, both wading
and in a canoe, and have yet to see a gator,
or the monster, or anything else that could
do one in. I've told them that! Yet they tend
to believe another Yankee! I've even tried the
common sense approach. Being that if there were
alligators in the lake, there wouldn't be tons
of turtles and baby ducks all over the place.
Gators find these two aforementioned items a
Lord knows I've been trying to educate these
two. Take for instance the berserk pounding
on my front door not too long ago, just seconds
after I came home from work.
"There's a huge snake in our back yard! You have
to come kill it!"
Yep, Nancy and Tina are pale as ghosts, shaking
in their boots as they stand on the front porch.
"What does he look like?" I ask.
"We don't know, but he has diamonds on his back!"
Well, we do have Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes
down here, and there is a patch of woods across
the street, and they do get huge. Hmmm, could be
a rattler. So, as I walked past my pickup truck,
I picked up a four-foot long stake out of the back
and we walked to their house. The two following
close behind like a couple of little ducklings.
"Where'd he go?" I asked as I walked across a
"He went under the roof-drain-spout-thingie!" as
they shouted from thirty feet away, pointing in
the direction of the downspout. I flipped the
plastic splatter pan away, and this poor, helpless
garter snake, coiled in the tree bark, appears
more scared than the girls.
"That him?" as I picked him up, and just couldn't
help chase the gals with the little feller! Ha!
Ain't done that since I was a kid.
Well, the snake lesson 101 went pretty good. I
even got Nancy to touch the little guy, but Tina
wasn't having any part of the huge, diamond-backed
serpent. I turned it loose across the street.
Hopefully the little guy will stay there.
So, what does all this have to do with civic duty?
Here ya go...
The gals have purchased two, combo spinning rods.
Nothing fancy, but workable. I used to pluck some
of the most awful rigs from the grass beds in the
lake as I waded and fly-fished near the grasses.
I finally had the opportunity to educate them
somewhat on, "don't use that stuff, use this stuff."
In the months that passes, they have kind of
graduated to the right hooks, split-shot and a
brightly-colored (sreamin' yellow) bobber and
have been doing quite well with the catchin' of
bluegill, small bass and an occasional turtle.
And the turtle catchin' leads me to another
There are quite a few soft-shelled turtles in
our lake. I actually caught one on an Accardo
Spook poppin' bug last year. Never caught a
turtle on a fly before. Anyway, the other day
I was shootin' the breeze with the gals and
they told me they had caught a snapping turtle
on a piece of pepperoni. Pepperoni? I thought
that to be amusing, since the Alligator Snapping
Turtle is one of the most, if not the most,
aggressive turtle in the south. These nasty
critters, at birth, have the disposition of
a mama grizzly bear! They'll rear up on their
toes and growl and "snap" and hiss. It's been
said that if they bite you, they won't let go
'til it thunders. So, when they told me they
had caught one on pepperoni, I began to snicker,
imagining this little snapper chasing 'em around
on the dock.
"What'd he look like?" I just couldn't resist.
"Well, he had neck that looked like a snake."
That was all I needed.
"It was a soft-shelled turtle. Fine eatin'! Who
told you it was a snappin' turtle?"
Yep, you guessed it; another Yankee down the street.
"What!? You eat those things?" Nancy and Tina
exclaimed in unison.
Southern folks tend to look past the dangers
of the lakes and oceans. We eat anything that
doesn't' eat us first. Gators, turtles, frog
legs, shark, all of it's good, and no, all of
it doesn't taste like chicken. This totally
messes up the gals. Kinda messes up Linda, too.
But she ain't a Yankee, she's a Kentucky gal,
and after ten years with me she just shrugs
Let's see. We were talking about civic duty, weren't we?
I guess by now, the gals are looking at me as
sort of a "Crocodile Dundee" type. Or, as Linda
said the other day, a "father-figure." I like
the "Crocodile Dundee" thing better.
As Linda and I sat outside the other night,
Nancy and Tina came down and the conversation
turned to fishing the flats. Both women voiced
their interest in going over there the next
time we went, and began asking what it was like.
We explained that we waded, and they would have
to get in the water to fish "the right way."
We further explained that the water was only
a couple of feet deep and was as clear as the
swimming pool water, sort of. They thought it
was a great idea, and Linda finally convinced
them there were no monsters that would crawl
out of the salt and eat them. "Course, I couldn't
help myself and told them I'd show 'em all the
saltwater gators that were out there, but "not
Last night, Linda and I went down and fished
a little with the girls from their dock, and
were quite amazed at Linda's ability to cast
her spinning rod with fine-tuned accuracy and
Fishing 101 lessons began in their driveway
shortly thereafter. Fly-rod? Not yet. But my
civic duties to save a couple of Yankees from
themselves have begun.
To be continued... ~ Capt. Gary
Gary grew up in central Florida and spent much
of his youth fishing the lakes that dot the area.
After moving a little closer to the coast, his
interests changed from fresh to salt. Gary still
visits his "roots" in the "lake behind the house."
He obtained his captain's license in the early '90's
and fished the blue waters of the Atlantic for a little
over twelve years. His interests in the beautiful shallow
water flats in and around the famous Mosquito Lagoon came
around twenty-five years ago. Even though Captain Gary
doesn't professionally guide anymore, his respect of the
waters will ever be present.
Gary began fly fishing and tying mostly saltwater
patterns in the early '90's and has participated as
a demo fly tier for the Federation of Fly Fishers
on numerous occasions. He is a private fly casting
and tying instructor and stained glass artist,
creating mostly saltwater game fish in glass.